Another Moose Jaw tunnel found under Joyner's
Remembering the North Star Crash in Moose Jaw - 1954
Patrick's memories of the crash
|Another tunnel found under Joyner's|
in Joyner’s building
Moose Jaw Times Herald - Monday, April 19, 2004
(For those of you too young to remember, our grandfather Jim Meikle worked at Joyner's for 50 years. He was still working at age 77 and died on the floor of the men's clothing section, of a heart attack, in 1969. -pwm)
An unexpected discovery of a new tunnel in downtown Moose Jaw caused some excitement Saturday afternoon as salvage and demolition work continued at the site of the burnt out Joyner’s building. Shortly after noon Saturday, Bob Bartlett, owner of the Joyner’s building, was operating a backhoe at the site, clearing out debris left behind by the fire that ripped through the building on New Year’s Day. Suddenly his machinery hit a barrier.
It took Bartlett a minute to realize it was the stone roof of an underground tunnel.
“I was bouncing the (backhoe) bucket on the top of it and it appeared to be pretty solid,” said Bartlett. “When I dragged the bucket over, it fell down and cleared some debris and there appeared to be a doorway.”
Bartlett had uncovered the opening to a tunnel that he hadn’t known was there.
“It’s a big huge piece of cut stone over the top of it,” he said, explaining why the structure hadn’t collapsed. Most of the doorway is still partially obstructed by the wreckage from the fire, and Bartlett hasn’t been able to explore it.
The tunnel seems to extend forward under Main Street and likely would have linked with the tunnels currently used by the Tunnels of Moose Jaw tours.
Though it has been obstructed, Bartlett assumes it once led to the Moose Jaw Hardware Store that stood on River Street, just across the alley from the Joyner’s building.
“When I acquired this building from Ted Joyner, he said there was a tunnel he used to use to get from the Joyner’s building to the Moose Jaw Hardware building,” he said.
Though Bartlett would like to somehow keep this bit of Moose Jaw history intact, he’s unsure if it will be possible in the course of the demolition. In order to rebuild on the site, be believes he will have to level the tunnel.
“I would like to preserve that, but what do you do?” he said. “You just can’t.”
In a related news story this same date, the Times-Herald says that the "Owners to rebuild brick by brick".
Brick by brick, owners of three heritage buildings in Moose Jaw destroyed by the New Year’s Day fire are starting to gather what they can from the site on the corner of River and Main Streets. The fire, which raged in 50 km/h gusting winds and -20 C weather, destroyed some of the downtown core’s oldest buildings and left a gaping hole in the city’s heritage district.
Robert and Tracy Bartlett, owners of the former Joyner’s department store building, will build a new store about half its original size.
|Remembering the North Star Crash in Moose Jaw - 1954|
North Star refit brings back vivid memories
All 35 people on board the North Star and the pilot of the trainer aircraft also died. Debris, luggage and bodies rained from the skies over Moose Jaw.
Among the debris that plummeted onto the streets of Moose Jaw were the North Star's Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.
One was found in the backyard of the house where the woman died. Another had fallen off the plane on its descent,
bouncing and rolling before coming to a stop on the city's main street. Much of the debris slammed into unpopulated
recreation grounds adjacent to the city's northern residential area.
Sunday, April 18, 2004.
I spoke to Art today (Check out his Web page... it's terrific!). Turns out we know/knew some of the same people in Moose Jaw... for example, Dale Eisler. Remember the Eisler's? They had the family grocery store up on Hall Avenue, between St.Louis College and St.Joseph Church, and it was just west of Uncle Jack and Aunt Marie's place on Grafton.
|Patrick's memories of the crash|
|I was in my 11th year and was boarding at St.Louis College with the nuns (Sisters of Charity?), while mom and dad
(transferring from Shaunavon to Winnipeg with the CPR) were looking for a home. Four or five of us would take a
taxi every morning from St. Louis College to the east side of Moose Jaw to St. Margaret Mary School. I was in Grade
Six. It was the last time I came first in my class (there were only four students!).
Around 11 a.m. in the morning I heard what I thought was a jet going over the school. Because jets were new to the area (I had seen jets in Winnipeg) I got up from my seat to look out the window. As I opened the blinds, a larger grade eight boy behind me threatened me with harm if I let the sun in on his desk. So I promptly sat down.
What I heard was the disabled plane coming down.
Grandma Meikle was on a bus at the time and saw the plane. It evidently was spinning because she could see bodies flying out. Uncle Bob Meikle apparently went to see the crash site and later said he wished he hadn't because of the terrible scene.
After our lunch hour at school, the kid who told me not to open the blinds, came back after listening to his brother who had also visited the crash scene. He regaled in telling us every gory detail that his brother had passed on... like the bodies and the carnage... a baby on a nearby rooftop, a man impaled on a fence, bits and pieces all over... it was a story that I never forgot.
|More notes on the crash (from the Internet)|
|1954, April 8 -- 6,000 feet
over Moose Jaw, an RCAF Harvard from Moose Jaw, flown by an RAF trainee pilot, collided in mid-air with a Trans-Canada
Airlines North Star flying from Winnipeg to Calgary . The total death toll was 37: 31 passengers, the TCA crew
of four, the Harvard's pilot and a woman in a house destroyed by falling wreckage.
A subsequent inquiry concluded, in the absence of other evidence, that the Harvard’s pilot, acting P/O Thomas Andrew Thorrat likely had been studying his map or filling out his logbook when he rammed the airliner. See Best In The West, pages 108-111. This semi-official history complained about "sensational" press reporting, but conceded Jan. 6, 1955 saw a "near-miss" between another Harvard and TCA North Star. Newspaper accounts of the 1954 crash noted a complaint by the head of the TCA pilots' union concerning RCAF aviators "buzzing" airliners. One result of the 1954 collision and the near-miss was the Department of Transport’s decision to move the "airway" along which airliners traveled well north of Moose Jaw, while RCAF training was focused south of the city. (http://groups.msn.com/cahsregina/19501959.msnw)
Moose Jaw Air Crash: On April 8, 1954, a Harvard RCAF trainer and a Trans-Canada North Star collided over the city of Moose Jaw, killing 36 passengers and one woman on the ground. The largest fragment of the airliner narrowly missed an elementary school. Bodies and debris littered the city's fair grounds and golf course. In the days following, there were charges and counter charges surrounding the RCAF's contention that the air above the city was theirs and the TCA's claim that the RCAF's aircraft routinely buzzed commercial flights. While the inquiry reached no solid conclusion, commercial flights above Moose Jaw were rerouted and the city's air space was deemed off limits to passenger aircraft. (http://www.partnersinmotion.com/partners/programs.html)
From another (technical) Web site: Airline: Trans Canada Airlines; Aircraft: Canadair C-4-1 Argonaut; Registration: CF-TFW; The aircraft collided with an RCAF Harvard Mark II at 6,000 feet. 33 aboard the Argonaut, and 2 aboard the Mark II (Harvard)were killed.
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